All Africa/Daily News (Gaborone)
September 20, 2016

Maun:  North West District council chairperson, Mr Reaboka Mbulawa says
both deliberate and accidental poisoning of vultures remain the top most
threats to their survival in Botswana.

Addressing a council meeting recently, Mr Mbulawa said poisoning of
vultures was also a threat to the tourism sector.

Thus, he urged the fellow councillors to talk to their electorates to stop
such actions with immediate effect.

Mr Mbulawa also encouraged the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and
Tourism and other agencies including the Directorate of Intelligence
Service to shift focus from elephant and rhino poaching, saying the current
poisoning of vultures was linked to elephant poaching.

“It is common knowledge that vultures alert anti-poachers to any kill and
more often these are seen as enemies to poachers and their war on vultures
is to wipe them out,” he said.

He also indicated that the phenomenon was evident in the Namibia Carprive
Strip where in July 2013, between 400-600 vultures, were found at a
poisoned elephant carcass.

Such trend, he said was ongoing because this year in Ngamiland, between May
and August around Shorobe area, 156 vultures were killed, adding the
heaviest loss recorded was in August where 103 died as a result of
poisoning.

Mr Mbulawa indicated that vultures played an extremely important role in
nature because they kept natural and man-made habitats free of carcasses,
waste and even human excrement.

He said Ngamiland would be worse off without vultures and the whole country
was counting on the district leadership to stand up to such challenge.

Nevertheless, he said public education would be intensified in order to
avert the looming extinction of vultures in the district.

Deliberating on the council chairman’s speech, some councillors expressed
concern about the delay in compensation of farmers by the department of
wildlife and national parks, which they argued exacerbated poaching and
poisoning of vultures in the district.

They argued that it was also disturbing that the department did not respond
on time to compensate farmers whose livestock had been killed by predators.

As such, they said some farmers had resorted to poisoning their dead cattle
as revenge, as a result poisoning vultures.

They also indicated that farmers made efforts to notify the department
about incidents of damage at their fields and livestock, but officers would
fail to attend to the scene until evidence was destroyed by vultures.

Cllr Ngatumbwe Kazombungo was also worried that some predators such as
hyenas, which he said impoverished farmers, were not included under animals
which were compensated for, hence they opted to poison their dead animals.

Cllr Kazombungo stated that the community were keen to engage in
conservation but were frustrated by the problematic predators.

Cllr Kenson Kgage shared same sentiments and cited an incident where a lion
had killed seven goats but officers failed to attend to such report.

As a result, Cllr Kgage said affected farmers thus ended up losing hope and
opted to poison their carcasses which resulted in killing of vultures.

Thus, he urged the department to up their game and ensure that species were
protected by swiftly attending to reports as well as compensate farmers on
time.

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